Friday, May 25, 2007

[muse] The Blame Game

The last software release contained a bug, but it's only discovered days and weeks later and now the data is all messed up. What to do?

- Blame QA -- Why of course, isn't your job to test?
- Blame Development -- Why did you write buggy code?
- Blame Product Management -- Why weren't you clear in the requirements?
- Blame Project Management -- Why didn't you identify this dependency?
- Blame Business Owner -- Why didn't you specify that detail in your request?
- Blame End Users -- Why didn't you check the result when we released it? You would have realized the problem much earlier.

The reality is that no single person is ever to blame. The purpose of the different teams is for us to serve as safety net for each other. So everyone shares credit for a success, and everyone is responsible for a problem. Everyone can learn from a problem and do a little better next time.

So don't ever ask "Why didn't you catch this problem" -- It serves no purpose other than to be condescending -- Do you really think that anyone actually wants things to not work?

I am very lucky to be part of a team where we don't play the blame game. But I haven't always been this lucky. If your workplace is blame-game-infested, try this counter-measure -- Step up and take the blame. Yup. All of it. Afterall, you are partly to blame anyways, and taking all the blame may just end the game, so everyone can return to some productive and interesting work.

And that, is building good karma.